Mother's Day Review
The seemingly inexorable deluge of cynical Hollywood remakes is one of the most depressing aspects of modern film, demonstrating a dearth of imagination and an identifiable route to safe revenues. With Mother's Day presenting a remake of the grubby little Charles Kaufman feature from 1980 and with directorial duties being handled by the man who brought us the inevitably derivative (though not entirely unenjoyable) Saw II, III and IV, a repeat offence of uninspired and bland remakeage is surely on the cards.
It's something of a surprise to discover that Darren Lynn Bousman acquits himself with due dignity as he presides over a not entirely challenging but respectable enough remake of the original Troma article. One of the key elements that guarantees the modest success of this reworking of the psychotic matriarch yarn is Bousman's choice in only basing the story and characters very loosely on Kaufman's original, and bringing his own style and flavour to this grim yet gripping tale.
Armed with an impressive cast, the afore-mentioned psychotic matriarch premise, and directorial skills garnered during his time directing a healthy chunk of the Saw franchise entries (as well as another couple of notable entries), Bousman shows a deft hand for this brand of slick, accessible, and substantially gory filmmaking. Opening proceedings sharply with a disturbing scene and then the looming, murky threat of a major storm, we quickly learn that despite the tentatively risque partying surrounding a clutch of comfortably affluent late twenty/early thirty-somethings in one of their basements, Bousman is not intending to play nicely with our nerves. Indeed, shortly afterwards, the small group of couples find themselves suddenly at the mercy of a desperate family of misfits looking for money to escape the country after a botched robbery effort, and when the matriarchal head of the family arrives to manage the situation in her own inimitable and psychologically brutal fashion, the stage is set for a catalogue of violence that rarely feels over-stretched during the relatively meaty 112 minute running time.
Bousman leverages strong performances from the solid cast, with the wonderful Deborah Ann Woll (who will be affectionately known to True Blood fans) playing the vulnerable and confused daughter, Lydia, to perfection, the increasingly mature Shawn Ashmore playing the reluctant young doctor with conviction, and Rebecca De Mornay - almost performing a twisted reprise of her role in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle - making the lead role entirely her own and upping the ante with increasing levels of controlled depravity as the film works towards its exciting climax.
Whilst the piece is orchestrated smoothly and with surprising momentum considering the running time, you shouldn't expect an incredible level of depth amongst the bloody action and obsessive intra-familial dramatics. That said, the dynamics of the dysfunctional family of deviants is intriguing and delivered with due tension, and the blurring of loyalty, morality, and the matriarchal adherence to supposed high principles is absorbing. Most compelling of all is the emotional fallout of the gruelling incarceration, where assumed bonds are exposed for their fragility, secrets are coerced from the desperate assembly, and the instinct of self-preservation produces some disturbing behaviour from the increasingly fraught captives.
It's not especially original, and some of the slickly presented situations stretch the premise a little too far, but with competent and assured direction, and a knack for locking our attention into a stranglehold with a gripping delivery, Bousman's Mother's Day is a remake which contains sufficient creative merit to justify a viewing recommendation.
Optimum Home Releasing produce a typically high quality transfer on this region B encoded Blu-ray, with a picture that is immaculate for the most part in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Expect rich colours throughout, and a level of accuracy in the 1080p resolution which results in the shocking gore being reproduced with eye-watering detail. There is some evidence of grain during the deep blues of the nighttime sequences, but this is fitting with the gritty nature of these desperate scenes.
The movie automatically triggers trailers for Joe Cornish's Attack the Block, the rather splendid-looking Kill List, the obligatory Mars advertisement, and gritty prison drama, Cell 211.
There are English subtitles for the hard of hearing.
You can expect a high quality audio delivery from Optimum, and your expectations will be fulfilled. The menu system offers the selection of 2.0 Stereo LPCM or 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and the audio reproduction is excellent, with bass resonance proving particularly rich and satisfying. Dialogue is clear throughout, and I have no complaints with any part of the audio section of this package.
There's a fairly generous interview section which includes a number of individual interviews with the cast. Rebecca De Mornay makes for an engaging listen with her calm and considered delivery, but the real gem here is the double act from Lloyd and Charles Kaufman, who are genuinely hilarious but also rather charming and warm. Ensure you watch all of the interviews, especially the one with the Stunt Coordinator, who is the unwitting (and unknowing) victim of a not so subtle practical joke.
There's not much else to report here, other than an eleven minute B-Roll section, and a Trailer for the movie.
A high quality transfer, a smattering of mildly satisfying extras, and a presentation which stands out as one of the few modern remakes to justify its existence, this package of Bousman's film constitutes a worthwhile investment for fans of gripping, if not entirely challenging, twisted matriarch nightmares.